Warriors-76ers Preview

BY foxsports • January 29, 2016

There are plenty of ways to quantify the gap between the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers, but a simple look at the standings is probably the greatest indicator. If things continue on this path for another week and a half, they'll be separated by the largest margin at the All-Star break since the game's inception in 1951.

Add in Golden State's recent demolition of some of the best teams in the league, and if it weren't for two more stops on the Warriors' East Coast road trip, one could probably call their flight for Saturday's contest the most pointless six hours of travel in NBA history.

The largest gap at the break in league history is the 38 games that separated Cleveland and New Jersey in 2009-10, and Golden State (42-4) and Philadelphia (7-40) each have six games remaining. At 35 1/2 games entering Philadelphia's 48th contest, it's already mathematically impossible for the league's worst team to pass its best - not that such matters are of concern to Golden State considering its recent run against teams that could theoretically catch it.

After Wednesday's 127-107 home win over Dallas, the Warriors have won five straight by an average of 25.4 points, and that includes games against Cleveland, Chicago, Indiana and San Antonio. Klay Thompson scored a season-high 45 points in 32 minutes against the Mavericks, following two games in which he totaled 29 while Stephen Curry poured in 37 and 39.

"Klay doesn't seem to have a care in the world, so that translates in a lot of different ways," coach Steve Kerr said. "It means it doesn't bother him too much when he misses shots, so he keeps shooting, which we want him to do. It also means he's fine taking a backseat to Steph. It works well. ... There always has to be a little bit of a pecking order in the NBA. Klay's personality suits that second option."

Thompson hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range as the Warriors went 14 of 29, bumping their mark over the winning streak to 43.8 percent while never scoring fewer than 120 points.

The Warriors have won the four meetings over the past two seasons by an average score of 27 points with the 76ers shooting 37.9 percent and 23.3 from 3-point range. The latest was a bit tamer, as Golden State shot just 40 percent in an 89-84 road victory on Feb. 9.

Philadelphia has been more respectable lately while trading wins and losses for the last six games, though it's coming off Wednesday's 110-97 defeat in Detroit. The 76ers have been far better offensively by averaging 102.1 points on 47.4 percent shooting over a 4-7 span after entering at 92.5 per game, and the last two have come with Jahlil Okafor and JaKarr Sampson out due to illness.

Jerami Grant started for a second straight game and scored a career-high 21 points, while Nerlens Noel added 20 and is averaging 13.6 on 69.8 percent shooting in his last five.

Okafor returned to practice Friday, but even if their top scorer is back, the 76ers are unlikely to keep pace with the Warriors. Golden State leads the league with 115.1 points per game, the NBA's highest mark since the Warriors averaged 118.7 in 1991-92. Philadelphia is last at 94.7 and turns the ball over more than any team in the league (17.9 per game), while Golden State scores a league-high 20.8 fast-break points per game.

"I think that when you watch championship level basketball, that's the game," 76ers coach Brett Brown told the team's official website. "I think (basketball) is going to be played with a high level of place, a high volume of 3s.

"They can score about any time they want. Can they sustain it? I think that they can. I actually think they can. I think they're going to be playing against the Spurs in late May. They're really an exciting team to watch."